holiday favorites

Team AST’s Holiday Favorites

As we kick off the holiday season this week, we surveyed some of AST’s coaching staff to find out what the holidays mean to them, what their favorite parts are, and how they balance their fitness lives with their family and social ones.

Staff Member: Morgan

What are your favorite things about this time of year? Sweater weather, fireplaces, skiing and trying to beat my family in holiday board games.

What are you thankful for? Enjoying a happy and healthy life surrounded by interesting and supportive people.   

Do you have any fitness tips, motivators for staying on track over the Holidays? You can’t have every drink and dessert – have a plan, know where/when you are going to break the rules and stick to that. Also, don’t let your holiday obligations get in the way of your workouts – even if you do a quick bodyweight workout in your childhood bedroom.

What are your favorite Holiday recipes for the following:

Not these Buckeyes… we’re more partial to Hawkeyes here anyway.


What fitness item(s) is on your wish list this year? A folding bike & a Fitbit

What are your resolutions for next year? To complete the RAW bike ride and work some down time into my schedule every week.


 Staff Member: Jackie

What are your favorite things about this time of year? Cooking is one of my favorite ways to spend time, so I love having an excuse to get in the kitchen and share meals with friends and family 🙂          

What are you thankful for? Having the freedom and flexibility to actively pursue the things I’m most passionate about in life             

Do you have any fitness tips, motivators for staying on track over the Holidays? Book some sessions ahead of time and plan a couple of activities that you enjoy (a hike with some friends/family or a quick jog with your pup). Get those workouts built into your schedule and keep them 30 min or less so that you feel good and set a positive tone for the day without eating into your family time.

ALLLSO…don’t forget to hit us up for some body weight routines if you’re traveling!!

What are your favorite Holiday recipes for the following:

What fitness item is on your list this year? A Camelbak annnd maybe a better foam roller

What are your resolutions for next year? Read at least 1 book per month and build in at least 10 minutes each day to meditate


 Staff Member: Christine

What are your favorite things about this time of year? The fall leaves and holiday lights – definitely NOT the cold.

What are you thankful for? My boys – they remind me what it is like to be carefree and enjoy the little things

Do you have any fitness tips, motivators for staying on track over the Holidays? Your day to day should remain the same.  Just because you have a holiday party coming up on Saturday doesn’t mean you can start sampling treats on Thursday without seeing your waistline take a hit.

What are your favorite Holiday recipes for the following:

  • Appetizer/Hors d’oeuvre: Deviled eggs – I don’t make them, I just eat them
  • Entrée: Ham in a slow cooker.  I don’t have a recipe, but the one my mother-in-law makes is to die for!
  • Side Dish: Maple bacon pecan butternut squash I have made it without the bacon and it is still delish!
  • Dessert: Berry cobbler. I have made this with blueberries, apples, peaches, raspberries.  It really does work with almost any “pie” fruit!

What fitness item is on your list this year? A King Kong gym bag


What are your resolutions for next year? Focus more on me.  I spend so much time running around for the kids, my business, and life in general, that I don’t actually sit still and chill out.


Staff Member: Scott

What are your favorite things about this time of year? I love wearing hoodies and sweat pants (who doesn’t?) I’m a family man and really enjoy spending time with my loved ones this time of year.

Also, most importantly: every Christmas we get a new Star Wars movie so that’s always something I look forward to.

What are you thankful for? I’m most thankful for all the loved ones in my life.

Do you have any fitness tips, motivators for staying on track over the Holidays? Keep cooking, this time of year slow cookers are a must. Coming home to a house that smells of whatever delicious foods you left in the slow cooker all day 😊

Also, don’t dwell on the foods you’ll be eating during the holidays, understand that it’s okay to have some of the holiday favorites. For me, the less I think about it the less I consume. The more pressure I put on myself I feel like the consumption turns into a feast (which I feel is all psychological).

Keep moving during the holidays and enjoy everything the season has to bring.

What are your favorite Holiday recipes for the following:

  •  Appetizer/Hors d’oeuvre: Pigs in a blanket – Just little smoked sausages wrapped in the Pillsbury crescent dough. This isn’t a healthy one by any means, but this is our family favorite ever holiday party we have.
  • Entrée: Paleo pulled pork with pineapple coleslaw
  • Side Dish: Roasted vegetable and potato side (Brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes, bacon optional) This one is simple and has so much flavor! Just cut everything into cubes and make sure the ingredients are cut into the same size for even cooking. Mix them all into a big bowl with coconut oil (melted), salt pepper and an herb of choice (I like parsley or thyme). If you would like some more flavor and a way to add some savory and saltiness add some diced bacon or pancetta to the mix. Poor into a sprayed cooking pan and roast at 400 degrees for 25-25 minutes or until tender and crispy. 
  •  Dessert: If you want a brownie without unnecessary ingredients try these. They are relatively low carb and delicious.

What fitness item is on your list this year? More sweat pants that fit a 36 L

rex kwon do

What are your resolutions for next year? Start my PICP Level 2 certification and end my gut issues.


 Staff Member: Dan

What are your favorite things about this time of year? Christmas lights! Crockpots! Snow Days! These things are my favorite. I also enjoy skiing, family time, good conversation, and long walks in the snow 😉  

What are you thankful for? I’m thankful for my health, my family and friends, and a great community of people!

 Do you have any fitness tips, motivators for staying on track over the Holidays?  MOVE! After your meal, head out for a walk around town.  Keep up your good healthy habits and course out your thanksgiving meal throughout the day. Drink LOTS of water!

What are your favorite Holiday recipes for the following:

  • Appetizer/Hors d’oeuvre: Pepperoni Bread
  • Entrée: Turkey, turkey, turkey
  • Side Dish: Cranberry Sauce
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Pie

What fitness item is on your list this year? The Plexus Wheel Trio ; I’m always adding new toys to help aid in recovery and overall well-being. Move better – live better!

What are your resolutions for next year? Sign up and run a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon

All Strength Training Core Challenge July

July Challenge: The Core Challenge

As easy as it is to write off “core training” as just another trendy way to get personal trainers to add another certification to their wall and a few extra letters on their business cards, it’s also not enough to treat core training as another name for abdominal training.  Also, while we often hear that big exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses are great for developing core strength (and they are), that only works if you know how to use your core muscles during those types of lifts.

For our purposes, we’re going to define “the core” as anything responsible for stabilizing the lower spine, the hips, and the pelvis.  More than just the visible abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, if you’re fancy), it also includes the external obliques, the transverse abdominis (the deep abdominals that you can’t see), your erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and the glutes – medius, minimus, and maximus.

Why Should You Do Core Training?

The primary benefits we’re going to be aiming for during the Core Challenge are going to be:

  • Improved breathing patterns, including better use of the diaphragm
  • Better posture
  • Reduction in back and hip pain or discomfort
  • Stronger glutes and abdominals
  • Better integration of the core into larger lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses

What Is the Core Challenge?

The Core Challenge involves training these muscles 6 days per week, with one full day of rest, using short workouts and steady progressions.  Instead of doing longer workouts less often, training muscles that you struggle to use well allows you to practice more often and retain the patterns better, no differently than practicing a golf swing, playing an instrument, or learning a new language.

Want to get started? Download the Core Challenge program here.

You can find the video demonstrations for each movement on our YouTube page on our Core Challenge playlist.  Videos will be added one week at a time.



injury tips

4 Tips to Stop Hurting Yourself

Many people will experience some sort of an injury from exercise, and a lot of the common injuries that come up during our consultations can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions.

#1 – Stretch & Foam Roll (With Purpose) Before Training

I used to be the queen of not stretching before training.  I would walk into the gym and hit the weights.  Well, I don’t know if I can blame it on getting older, or just taking my training more seriously, but those aches and pains that shouldn’t be there started following me around day in and day out.  I finally made a change and now spend 15-20 minutes before each training session just rolling and stretching.  When I have legs, I am loving on that foam roller like you wouldn’t believe, practically crying from how tight my legs have become just since the day prior.  I pull out my lacrosse ball from some extra glute work when needed, and then always do about 5 minutes of various hip stretches.  When I walk towards the weights, I am feeling good and able to get more depth with my squats and deadlifts, push a little heavier, and always end up with a much better workout, and most importantly, a pain free workout.

Takeaway: Budget 15-20 minutes to prepare for your lifting session

#2 – Know the Difference Between Good Pain & Bad Pain

When you go to the doctor and try to explain a stomach ache, they always ask if the pain is dull, achy, stabbing, etc.  Thinking about these things during training is also valuable.  If the pain is burning (think about your quads during Bulgarian split squats), then that is good pain.  Feeling sharpness in your knee during Bulgarian splits squats, however, is bad pain.

Here are some keys to know whether the pain is good or bad.  Are you feeling a burning pain in the muscle you are trying to work?  This is good and likely from lactic acid buildup.  How about sharp pain – sharp pain anywhere is not a good thing.  For me, I run across this when doing particular shoulder movements (I have some long-lasting issues from playing water polo in high school and college).  So, I don’t fret, I just make a change – I could change the weight, change the movement, change the hand position – there are multiple things I can do to alter the movement and still get a great workout that’s free from the wrong kind of pain.

Takeaway:  Listen to your body and be adaptable.

#3 – Don’t Try to Compete in the Weight Room

Is the person next to you deadlifting 50lbs more than you?  Well, good for them, but don’t try to copy them.  I had this conversation with a friend of mine the other day and they told me how much the squat.  It was a lot more than me, and I told them no way, no how could I squat that much and I wasn’t about to try.  Why?  Because I know my body and its limitations.  I also know that this friend weighs more than me which usually means that they have the capacity to lift more than me.

Worry about you, not someone else.  Lift what you can lift and always work towards your own personal PR’s – forget about the person next to you and their PR.

Takeaway: The only person you should be trying to out lift is yourself.

#4 – Move More on a Daily Basis

This one seems so simple, yet is so often neglected.  There is a reason that the term “Desk Jockey Syndrome” has become so popular.  We, as a population, sit  . . . a lot.  Some of this is because of our work, and some is because of habit (where’s the remote?).  Regardless, this hunched over, unsupported lower back, sitting on our ass all day phenomenon has created poor postures, weak glutes, weak core, rounded shoulders, and aches and pains where there shouldn’t be.  We are seeing it more and more with standing desk stations now, or the fitbit that tells you to take a quick lap around the office.  The theme is the same  – stand up, walk some, move your muscles so they don’t get so tight and stiff.  If you don’t have the option to use a standing desk (say you are a driver for a living), then take the opportunities you do have to move.  Park farther away at the grocery store and walk, use the stairs instead of the elevator, be active while you are watching your favorite night-time show, whatever.

Takeaway:  This one is simple, MOVE.

NEAT challenge

March Challenge: The NEAT Challenge

Tomorrow we will be starting a new challenge for the month of March – our NEAT Challenge! It’s free, it’s simple, and it’s open to everybody.

For this month’s challenge, we wanted to take a step back from a focus on our training.

It’s extremely easy to get wrapped up in how much we train – how often we lift weights, how often we do cardio, how much ab work we do – IT’S IN OUR NAME, for Pete’s sake.

But, particularly in the winter months, we can get so wrapped up in our training and exercise that we forget about our activity levels. It’s cold out, so you stop biking or walking to work and start taking the train, you walk your dog a little less, you don’t go to the park or get involved with a weekend rec league; instead, you replace those things with an extra half an hour on a warm couch, in front of a fireplace… why it’s not called “Netflix and warm” I will never understand.

Yet when our activity levels dip down like that, it can require other changes to offset it – maybe a little less food, or another workout each week. And with those reduced calories or increased training stress comes a reduction in your ability to recover. You ache a bit more, you get hungrier more quickly, you feel a bit more sluggish in the middle of the afternoon.

What we want to do is increase something called NEAT – short for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. What does that mean? It means, the calories we burn just by doing things that don’t require any recovery – it’s not exercise or training, it’s just activity. Neat, huh? (I AM THE BEST AT PUNS)

In fact, it’s been shown that increasing your NEAT will actually help you recover more from your training and allows you to keep your food intake higher with no loss of progress. It’s not stressful on your body, it’s just… moving.

Here is the plan:

Week 1: Using a pedometer (you can buy one to keep on your hip, or you can use one on your phone – provided your phone is always on you, which may not be the case), you’ll track the number of steps you take each day. After 7 days, you’ll find the average number of steps you take in a given day.

Each week, your goal will be to increase the number of steps you take each day by 1,000. If your average was 2,000 in Week 1, your goal is 3,000. Pretty simple step. (HA!)

By the end of the month, that should put your daily average a full 3,000 steps (or more) higher than where you started.

Note: I personally would suggest not keeping your pedometer on you when doing any of your training or existing exercise – lifting, running, cycling, etc – the things you’re already doing. We’re not trying to cram in more workouts; remember, it’s Non-Exercise Activity we’re monitoring here, and I don’t want to stack more and more onto your recovery ability.

Are you in?

excessive training

Trainers: Stop Killing Your Client

There is a trend in the personal training industry right now where workouts are simply competitions to see who can tolerate the most punishment, whether it serves a purpose or not (other than bragging rights).

I was recently at a commercial gym with a friend and we decided to take a heated yoga class with incorporated cardio – we were intrigued and both have a good fitness capacity, so we figured “Why not?” About halfway into the class, the instructor had us doing some crazy plyometric something or other for 48 rounds . . . yes, 48. Even the instructor couldn’t do all of the rounds. When did it become normal, or okay, to create a workout so challenging that no one could complete it (okay, maybe not no one – I am sure there are those anomalies). It got me thinking, what does this actually accomplish? I get it though. If you cannot complete the workout as prescribed, then you must suck and therefore come back next week and the next week until you get it – makes sense considering they are trying to make money off of your misfortune.

There is yet another problem with running clients into the ground. Let’s use the example of this class again. We were doing plyometric cycling split squats (don’t bother searching YouTube for it… I’m pretty sure it was named by drawing a series of adjectives out of a hat) combined with jump squats. If I, someone who is athletic, had trouble completing these, how about someone who is overweight and still building up their fitness level? Now, we have not only the feeling of failure, but also the likelihood that they will hurt themselves by performing movements that their joints are not (and do not need to be) accustomed to. Where is the regression? Where is creating an environment that utilizes effective movements while preventing injury? Trust me – that room was heated to 95 degrees – we didn’t need to do all of the crazy stuff to break a sweat.

People are brainwashed to think “No pain, no gain” and that you have to be literally on the verge of death in order to have a “good workout”. These philosophies couldn’t be further from the truth. You CAN have an effective workout and live to tell about it. You CAN walk out of the gym and feel good about what you accomplished, and you CAN continue to progress towards realistic goals. The thing of it is . . . you CAN. Stop subjecting yourself to workouts that the instructor cannot even complete, set yourself up for success.

At All Strength Training, we design workouts to be efficient and effective. Key word – Effective: successful in producing a desired or intended result. If your intended results was to fall on your face and feel like a failure – congratulations, you did it! If your desired result is to make progress with your physique, get stronger for the gym and life, and feel awesome about training session, then your approach should be different.

Train smart. Don’t underestimate recovery. Fuel your body. Relish in your Results.

Morgan's 10 diet tips

10 Tips for When You Start a Diet

Making a big diet change comes with its challenges. Every year, I participate in AST’s Ultimate Challenge fat loss competition as a way to re-focus after the holiday season. Here are some of the things you want to be ready for.

  1.  Prepare your food: This one is pretty obvious—make sure you always have goal-friendly foods that you know the macros for in your fridge. Plan at least a couple of your next-day meals the night before and log the macros that evening so you can grab them and go in the morning. Always have veggies chopped up or on hand for when you are hungry but can’t eat anything else.
  1. Plan for “Emergencies”: Not real emergencies like your arm falling off, I’m talking about food emergencies, like when you’re caught working late or out running errands that are taking longer than expected (or, when you think you should eat that arm). In a bind, you should always know what your nearest convenient snack options are. My faves include a prosciutto-wrapped cheese stick from 7-Eleven, a bag of raw nuts from a gas station/convenience store, and a piece of fruit from the grocery store.
  1. Eating out: This is an inevitable reality for most of us. Knowing where you can go and where you can’t is important. Yes, it’s easy to order a chicken breast, piece of fish or steak with a side of veggies or a salad anywhere, but will you?  Be honest with yourself, because it can be hard to say no to “cheats” at your usual haunts. If it’s not the Whole Foods salad bar (and yes, I’m only talking about the part with leafy greens), Chipotle, or a steak house, you will not find me there during periods of more aggressive fat loss.
  1. The numbers don’t lie . . . except when they do: You are going to have to get used to this idea: your weight and body fat measurements will not always be in direct correlation with how closely you’ve stuck to the plan. I’ve been weighing myself at the same time every day on the challenge. Here are my results:

weight fluctuation

  1. Your mental capacity might suffer: What was I doing? What did you say? Did you see that? You are not losing it. These are all questions I’ve asked myself during the first week of my diet. Often referred to as “brain fog,” it’s just your brain adjusting to running on fat, rather than carbs (its preferred energy source).  It doesn’t last forever.
  1. Your workouts might suffer . . . temporarily: Mine usually do.

workout log

Chalk it up to having less energy. For most of us, we are consuming less energy, a.k.a. less food. This will be temporary.

  1. Plan your social life around activities, not food and drink: By now my friends and family know that I do this every year. I am not willing to go through a social dry spell for two months, so I see them for goal-friendly activities like having coffee, taking a yoga class, or visiting the spa. I usually go on at least one vacation during my diet and, yes, it’s possible. It just requires a little more research than the average trip.
  1. Catch up on your to-do list: In some ways I look forward to doing this every year because it gives me time to complete outstanding projects. It gives me a chance to binge-watch a show, complete a craft, or learn something new on YouTube. One year I made a rug, this year I’m working on learning a new language.
  1. When all else fails, trick yourself: Although my diet-breaking cravings vary from year to year, nothing beats desserts. I’ve learned to trick myself into enjoying the following in place of desserts:

Protein Pudding: Mix 1 cup of 2 percent Greek yogurt with 1 scoop of protein powder. Optional: 1 tbsp PB2, unsweetened cocoa powder or 1 scoop chocolate/espresso Wellness Greens.

Coconut Latte: Combine 2 shots of espresso with 2 tbsp – ¼ c coconut milk, stir in 1 packet stevia and top off with a dash of cinnamon.

I also make sure to end every night with a dessert-flavored tea. Argo Tea and Republic of Tea have some great dessert options.

  1. Forgive yourself: I’ve never had a perfect diet, but I’ve always looked better at the end than in the beginning. If you slip up, just reset the next day and start over. Don’t sweat it. It’s all about making lifestyle changes that make you look and feel better permanently.


The 4 Week Pullup Challenge Workout

When it comes to fitness “bucket list” goals, for many people it’s as simple as “I want to be able to do one pullup again. Just one!” So we’ve made February officially Pullup Improvement Month here at AST.

Important note: this is the technique that you SHOULD be using when you do a pullup.

So flailing, flopping, bouncing, and generally attempting to imitate a drunk seal jumping through a flaming hoop while surrounded by penguins throwing lawn darts… won’t count.

You’ll start by finding out how much weight you can lift for 1-2 strict, clean reps.  If you can’t lift your entire bodyweight for one rep, you can either use an assisted pullup machine (available at most commercial gyms), or use thick resistance bands attached to the rack or the pullup bar itself (we use resistance bands from EliteFTS here at AST).  By stepping inside the bands it creates assistance, not resistance, allowing you to reduce the size of the bands over time as you get stronger.

Your goal over the course of four weeks is to increase the number of reps you can do with that initial resistance/assistance level, and then re-test your 1-2 rep strength at the completion of the program.

You’ll be performing this workout 2-3 times per week, and it can be done either at the beginning of your workout, at the end, or as a stand-alone on days you normally wouldn’t train.  We’re using it after training sessions with our clients and we’ve removed any pullup variations from our regular programming over the course of the Pullup Challenge to avoid any overuse and fatigue issues that would hinder progress.

Download the 4 Week Pullup Challenge, and leave a comment to let us know how you did!

chicago guide to grocery shopping

A Chicagoan’s Guide to Clean Grocery Shopping

When it comes to buying groceries, most of us are stuck in the same old routine. Out of convenience we pop in to whatever chain store is closest. We forget that Chicago is in the Midwest, the heartland, farm capital of the US, and we forget that there are so many great options for getting quality fresh food. I’ve compiled a list of specialty stores in the Chicagoland area that are worth the extra trip. Some locations even offered special coupon codes and discounts.


Green City Farmer’s Market
Peggy Notebaert Museum (Indoors – November through April)
2430 N. Cannon Dr.
Saturdays: 8 am–1 pm

Lincoln Park (Outdoors – May through October)
N. Clark St & N. Lincoln Ave
Wednesdays and Saturdays: 7 am–1 pm

Finn’s Ranch – Green City Farmer’s Market
Specialty: Naturally fed beef, pork, poultry, and eggs

Jake’s Country Meats – Green City Farmer’s Market
Specialty: Sustainably raised pork, chicken, beef, and fish

Mint Creek Farm – Green City Farmer’s Market
Specialty: Grass-fed meats raised on certified organic prairie pastures including lamb, beef, pork, and goat
PROMO: organic-grassed meat CSA shares $50-100 off with annual membership

Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market Street
Specialty: Whole animal butcher shop with an emphasis on quality, sourcing from local/organic farms and credited suppliers

Green Grocer
1402 W. Grand
Specialty: Organically grown and locally sourced foods. Offers a bi-weekly bulk meat purchasing program featuring sustainably/pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic-free meats

Weekly Specials:
Mon: 25% off all produce
Tues: Free $10 gift card when you spend $50
Wed: 25% off frozen meat
Thurs: 50% off a second bottle of wine
Fri: 25% off all prepared foods

Local Foods
1427 W Willow St #1
Specialty: All cuts of meat, locally sourced, locally processed or sustainably produced

Every Tuesday if you spend $100 you can get a $25 gift card to use next time
Every Wednesday we have Wine Wednesday that is 25% off all wines and $5 glasses at the cafe
Every 2nd Wednesday  of the month we have Vegetable Vednesday that is 30% off all our produce
Every 3rd Tuesday of the month we have Tomato Tuesday featuring our MightyVine tomatoes throughout the store. We have discounts on all tomatoes sold in store. $1 off tomato soup at the cafe and grab and go, and $1 off butcher made bolognese and chili
This month (and usually every month) on the last Tuesday of the month we have $5 pork chop day from the butcher shop

BlackWing Organic Meats
Specialty: Complete line of organic proteins including beef, chicken, ostrich, pork, turkey and buffalo

All Grass Farms
18N681 IL Route 31
Dundee, IL  60118
Specialty: 100 percent grass-fed beef, raw Guernsey milk, free-range broiler chickens and eggs, turkeys, and pasture-raised pork available in bulk quantities

Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish
2070 N. Clybourn
Specialty: 16–18 types of fresh fish daily

Dirk’s Fish
2070 N. Clybourn
Specialty: Fresh fish and sustainable seafood

Wixter Market
2110 W. Division St
Specialty: Large variety of fresh and tinned seafood
PROMO: 20% off of first-time salmon purchase – mention this post for discount

Sitka Salmon Shares
109 South Cherry St
Galesburg, IL 61401
Specialty: A variety of fish “shares” comprised of wild Alaskan fish delivered monthly to your door during the season. They also sell fresh, seasonal fish by the pound at the Logan Square Indoor and Outdoor farmer’s markets
COUPON: Use discount code CSF17 and for $25 off a share

Local Farmer’s Markets – Year Round

Green City Market – Lincoln Park
*see above for locations/hours*

Logan Square
(Indoors – November through March)
2755 North Milwaukee Avenue
Sundays:  10 am–3 pm

(Outdoors – April through October)
along Logan Blvd. between Milwaukee and Whipple
Sundays: 10 am–3 pm

Local Farmer’s Markets – Seasonal

(May – October)
1500 Berwyn Ave
Wednesdays: 3 pm–8 pm

Lincoln Square
(June – October)
Lincoln & Leland Avenues
Thursdays: 4 pm–8 pm

(Second Weekend in June – Mid October)
Broadway Armory Parking Lot
Saturdays: 8 am–1 pm

Stanley’s Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
1558 N. Elston Ave
Specialty: Seasonal fruits and vegetables (organic options) at some of the lowest prices in the city

Harvestime Foods (Edgewater Produce is their other, smaller store)
2632 W. Lawrence
Specialty: Large variety of fruits and vegetables (organic options) and other organic products at affordable prices

Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
5625 Howard St
Specialty: Home delivery of local and organic produce, meats, dairy, eggs and more. Dedicated to green sustainable agriculture and farms
COUPON: Enjoy $10 off your first order by entering the code “FARMTODOOR” in the exclusions box of the Account Dashboard page

If you don’t have time to visit your local farmer’s market, another time-saving option is to buy a seasonal CSA (community supported agriculture) share. Here is a good article that features five local CSAs:

River Valley Farmer’s Table
1820 W. Wilson Ave
Specialty: Fresh Mushrooms grown with organic practices, clean hot sauces, salsas and pasta sauces
(Full Disclosure: I work for River Valley Ranch. Even though I am clearly biased, I eat jars of this stuff every week.)

Dill Pickle Coop
3039 W. Fullerton
Specialty: Local and healthy products including meat, produce, and sauces

Amish Healthy Foods
1025 N. Western Ave
Specialty: Non-GMO and organic products, produced with traditional technology

meal prep

What Kind of Meal Prepper Are You?

We all know that food prep is essential to keeping nutrition in check, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You have to be willing to experiment and try new things before you find a plan that’s right for you. Here are a few different styles of prepping to help reach and keep your goals.

Traditionalist: Good for people with a fairly open schedule

The traditionalist plans their menu for a couple of days at a time.  They shop once weekly or, at most, or make a couple of trips every few days. They cook each meal before eating, and save time by prewashing/chopping veggies and pre-seasoning proteins. Frozen steamer veggies and precooked proteins are efficient options for this type of prepping.

Double Duty: Good for people with extra time in the morning

This style of prepping is all about planning a menu for the week and making a single shopping trip. This prepper is a master multitasker who cooks many dishes at once, while preparing their breakfast. This is a great way to save time by prepping a couple items each day, which can then be mixed and matched throughout the week.

Weekend Warrior: Good for people who don’t have a lot of free time during the week

The weekend warrior plans their menu for the week and makes one weekly shopping trip. They are able to set aside two to three hours each weekend dedicated to prepping and cooking all food for the entire week, cooking multiple items at the same time using an oven, grill, rice cooker, etc.

The Long Game: Good for people with really busy schedules and just have a couple free days a month

World-class organization skills are required to play the long game. This brave soul plans their meals for up to a month at a time and shops accordingly. They spend a couple of days preparing large batches of meals that are then portioned our and individually frozen. Caveat: It can be difficult to freeze and reheat veggies, so try blanching before freezing.

Non-Prepper: Good for people who are EXTREMELY busy, don’t like cooking or won’t cook.

This one should appeal to the convenience seeker. The non-prepper outsources most meal prep to an individual or service. They try out services to see which best matches their tastes and nutritional needs. Saves time by leaving it up to the pros and letting someone else do the work.

How Do AST Coaches Prep?

Staff Member: Zach

What is Your Prepping Type? Weekend Warrior

What are 15 items are on your grocery list every week? eggs, egg whites, grass-fed beef, chicken breast, cod, basmati rice, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, pineapple, strawberries, natural peanut or almond butter, coconut oil, spinach, saurkraut, Best Bar Ever

Current Prepping Obsession: a Chipotle-inspired cilantro-lime white basmati rice that I pieced together – 3 cups of rice combined with 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, the juice from half of a lime, 1tsp garlic powder, 1tsp Celtic sea salt, and 1tsp coconut oil and steamed. I eat a ridiculous amount of rice for my carbs so it can get boring quickly

Staff Member: Christine

What is Your Prepping Type? Traditionalist/Double Duty

What are 15 items are on your grocery list every week? wild salmon, cod, eggs, Canadian bacon, avocado, almond butter, sweet potatoes, blueberries, strawberries, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, rice cakes, dark chocolate 

Current Prepping Obsession: crockpot chicken and bacon (recipe from Paleo Magazine)

Staff Member: Morgan

What is Your Prepping Type? Double Duty/Weekend Warrior

What are 15 items are on your grocery list every week? whole chicken, chicken breast, ground venison, eggs, cucumbers, red peppers, celery, carrot, mushrooms, whole fat plain Greek yogurt, Asiago cheese, almond butter, avocados, acorn squash and rice.

Current Prepping Obsession? Chicken or Turkey Bone Broth Soup (recipe from Wellness Mama)

Staff Member: Jackie

What is Your Prepping Type? Traditionalist

What are 15 items are on your grocery list every week? eggs, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, arugula, split chicken breast, grass fed beef, salmon, heavy whipping cream, red pepps, apples (or some other type of fruit), peanut butter, pecans, full fat yogurt, some type of grain (long grain rice, oats, quinoa, etc…)

Current Prepping Obsession?

Smashed cauliflower (…steam it…then smash or process it…add delicious things like olive oil or grass fed butter, rosemary, and roasted garlic)

Curry roasted cauliflower with pistachios (more cauliflower for you…because let’s be real…cauliflower is magic…

Butternut squash (or sweet potato) hash (cube it…roast it in coconut oil…season it any way you want…add crumbled turkey bacon ((or pork bacon for you paleo peeps)), wilted greens…top with a fried egg, green onions, and a little sriracha)

Staff Member: Scott

What is Your Prepping Type? Weekend Warrior

What are 15 items are on your grocery list every week?
Chicken thigh, ground beef, chicken breast, frozen vegetables, frozen strawberries and blueberries, eggs, egg white cartons, spinach , Brussels sprouts , salad kits (Costco), sweet potatoes, soups. I do all my shopping at Costco.

Current Prepping Obsession? Marinating chicken thighs in chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. (recipe from TJ Davidson)


Healthy living traveling

Travel Woes No More

As some of you know, a couple weeks back I took a weekend trip to L.A. Like anyone traveling (especially around the holidays!) I experienced the usual concerns about being away from my routine, the possibility of falling off the wagon, and gaining unwanted body fat. However, after taking quite a few of these trips, I’ve learned that with a little bit of planning, you can stay on track almost anywhere you go.
Water Bottle: Don’t let yourself become dehydrated because airport water costs $6. Keep your bottle filled and bring it, wherever you go. For a best bet, bring one with a built in filter so you can refill anywhere. Check out this Brita Bottle.
Snacks: You never know when you might be delayed. Don’t find yourself at the mercy of the Hudson News snack wall. My favorites are raw nuts, fresh fruit or Ostrim sticks/jerky. Beyond the airport, they are easy to toss in your bag for daily excursions.

Fresh Fruit
Supplements: Bring them and take them. Separate pills and powders into single servings using Ziplocs, Tupperware or a GoStak. If you know you won’t have access to fresh fruits and veggies, bring a greens powder and multivitamin to supplement your daily intake. These were a lifesaver for me while biking RAGBRAI this Summer, where the best salad in town could be found at Subway.

What to Wear

-Always pack workout clothes, shoes and a swimsuit, no matter where you are going. If you don’t have them, you won’t workout. Even if you don’t make it to an actual gym, you may still wear them for other activities. Also, Athleisure is a trend because Vogue says so.

Nice Butt PopPhysique

Getting “Unplanned Exercise”
-Walk whenever possible. Bookmark spots you want to hit in advance so that you can easily see where you’d like to go and if walking is possible. I like to spend a little time on Yelp before I go anywhere. Mapping my “must see” spots ensures that I can hit more spots by walking between places that are relatively close. Sorry, Uber! Track your steps. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, use an app. My favorite for walking, running and biking is Charity Miles, which donates 25 cents to a charity of your choice for every mile you log.

-If traveling to a city research bike-sharing options. This can be a great way to get around and see things up close. Book an Airbnb that lists bike use or check the amenities of your hotel. I learned this tip while visiting the Hotel Monaco in Philly, which included “loaner bikes” under their amenities.

-Incorporate outdoor activities into your planning. Your body and wallet will thank you. See the photo of me and my friend atop the Hollywood Sign Hike.

Morgan LA view

Getting “Planned Exercise”
-Check out local studios for drop-in rates or join your family and friends at their favorite facility. This past year I lifted along side a friend at Industrial Strength in Portland and got my flow on at Yess Yoga in Minneapolis.

Venice Barbell

Eating Hacks
-Visit the local grocery store, co-ops or farmers markets for at least one or two meals a day. Erewhon in L.A. had a variety of clean prepared food options, as did The Wedge in Minneapolis.

Main Street Farmers Market

-Plan your cheats and stick to that schedule. Being away from home doesn’t give you license to eat anything you want. Even if you aren’t tracking, get in your protein and veggies at every meal and try to eat your cheats during your meals nearest to activities.  I suggest using Precision Nutrition’s Portion Control Guide because it requires nothing more than using your hand.


-Make sure you plan for at least one R&R activity, wherever you go. My faves include yoga/meditation, spa visits, beach/pool days or even an unplanned mid-day nap. This is important for your mood, health and quality of life.